BY MARK WEBER
The Rosedale Valley Strings Orchestra and the Red Deer Youth & Community Orchestra are teaming up for the ‘Music With a Mission’ concert April 29th.
The annual event starts at 7 p.m. at First Church of the Nazarene (2 McVicar St.) in Red Deer.
The Red Deer Youth and Community Orchestra, directed by Heather Ensley and the Rosedale Valley String Orchestra, directed by Naomi Delafield will each perform a set and then join together for a terrific final segment with guest conductor Karen Gustafson.
Admission is free but donations are accepted. Proceeds from the concert and silent auction will benefit the Mosaic Refugee Health Clinic in Calgary.
About 60 young string players will take the stage for this event, which was launched initially to benefit A Better World and other international programs, with what has been described as a lovely and varied program of classical favorites and original compositions.
During two intermissions, audience members may wish to bid on several gift baskets donated by local businesses as part of the silent auction.
The Mosaic Refugee Health Clinic, directed by Dr. Annalee Coakley, provides comprehensive primary care services to newcomers who arrive as refugees for their first two years in Canada, or until their claim is accepted.
Coakley has dedicated her career to caring for marginalized and vulnerable patients, including the many refugees who arrive in Canada dealing with a myriad of health issues after enduring unimaginable trauma.
Funds are needed to provide over 900 prescriptions a year, medical alert bracelets and walking aids for the elderly or injured. The students from both youth orchestras hope to raise at least $10,000 for these much needed items.
“I had been feeling like I wanted to do something to help the refugees a year ago,” said Delafield, adding that they decided to also re-visit that cause this year, too. “Now that they are here, and we can see what their needs are, it’s much more clear where the holes are and where we need to step in and be of assistance,” she said, adding that providing health care services is critical but largely unavailable to the newcomers during the settlement process.
“It’s really unfortunate for these people in particular because you can only imagine how many years they’ve been living in terrible conditions in a refugee camp,” she said.
“So they arrive with not only emotional trauma but I think some physical issues as well. And a lot of the people are elderly, and they aren’t necessarily able to bring their walkers or wheelchairs or whatever it is they might need as well.
“Quite often, when these people arrive, they need help almost immediately.”
Ultimately, Delafield said that Dr. Coakley’s work is absolutely critical to support.
“She’s been very instrumental in setting up this clinic in Calgary,” she said. “So what we are trying to do is to provide the funding for prescriptions, medicine, medical aids and also the ALERT bracelets so we can know what they are allergic to.
”We are trying to raise $10,000 for these items that there simply isn’t funding for,” she explained. “These people have been through so much – we can’t even fathom what they have been through running from fear and ending up living in difficult situations.”
Rosedale Valley Strings Orchestra rehearses on the Burman University campus and is directed by Delafield (concertmaster of the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra). The Orchestra is an inter-denominational, community-based youth string orchestra which performs for a variety of church, school and community events around the province of Alberta.
Each year, the young players select an international humanitarian project to support.
Meanwhile, this year’s show promises to be a fabulous and thoroughly experience for audiences.
“Each orchestra plays about 20 minutes of music on their own – their own repertoires that they have prepared,” she said. “Then we take a short intermission so people can take a walk around and look at the auction items.
“Then the other orchestra performs for about 20 minutes and we take another intermission. The finale is putting both orchestras together and we always try and invite a guest conductor,” she said. “It’s fun for kids to work with different conductors, and it’s good for them. We will be playing some really fun pieces.
“We always look forward to it, and the kids look forward to playing with the other orchestra. It’s always fun to hear the big sound!”